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Young Hurricanes lineup outmatched by Lightning in preseason tilt: Three Thoughts

A young Hurricanes group got outmatched by the Lightning in their second preseason game.

Carolina Hurricanes v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It was a tale of two halves for the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night in their preseason rematch against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Rod Brind’Amour went with a young, inexperienced lineup for game two of their exhibition schedule and that was on full display in the second and third periods as Tampa’s veteran-heavy group outmatched the Canes and ran away with an 8-5 win.

Here are three takeaways from Carolina's second preseason tilt.

Another strong offensive night from Carolina’s young forwards

Carolina’s top prospect was very noticeable in his preseason debut.

2020 first-round pick Seth Jarvis had the team’s best early chance via a powerplay opportunity. He fired a point-blank shot that was stopped by Tampa’s Hugo Alnefelt. He piled up five shots on goal on Friday and was an active force in the offensive zone throughout the game.

Due to the NHL’s agreement with the CHL, Jarvis will have to go back to the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL if he doesn’t make the Hurricanes out of camp. Based on his dominant play in the AHL last season before the junior season started and the early returns from training camp, it seems pretty clear that he is ready to graduate from the junior level.

Jack Drury and Jamieson Rees stood out in a big way in the preseason opener and they were every bit as active in game two.

Rees’ tenacity was apparent all over the ice, including an instance in the second period where his dogged forechecking forced the Lightning into taking a holding penalty. Drury was solid in all three zones, winning faceoffs against established NHL centermen and showing some offensive flare along the way.

Ryan Suzuki’s playmaking was on display, especially on the power play. He picked up a pair of assists, including a gorgeous feed on CJ Smith’s first goal of the night.

David Cotton had a breakaway chance in the third period that he couldn’t capitalize on, but he tallied an assist. Joey Keane looked very comfortable quarterbacking the first power-play unit and he had a nice assist on Derek Stepan’s first-period goal.

Spencer Smallman has gone through plenty of hardships in his early career due to injuries, but he was yet another standout performer in Tampa. He had a slick backhand finish right on the goal line for a goal and he added an assist.

As impressive as some of the kids were, there were very noticeable lulls in the defensive zone from top prospects, especially as the game wore on. That, of course, is to be expected, and we’ll dive into that more in a bit.

Veterans establish their presence

The Hurricanes iced a very young lineup in Tampa, but they were led by a group of veterans who will be on the opening night roster.

Derek Stepan and Jordan Martinook both found the back of the net on Friday and were steady throughout the night. Their work on the penalty kill was especially noticeable.

Depth guys like Smith and Stefan Noesen looked well acclimated and made quality contributions. When injuries hit, those guys will be among the first players to get NHL looks. Noesen didn’t find the scoresheet, but he checks a lot of boxes for a depth bottom-six forward.

Antti Raanta’s first night in net for Carolina was a bit of a disaster, but it wasn’t entirely on him. After allowing an early goal, he seemed to calm down and get into the game, but things fell apart around the midpoint in the game as Tampa really started to hit their stride.

The third period saw the Canes make a series of bad defensive mistakes and Raanta had to deal with some big messes as a result. The veteran backstop allowed seven goals on the night, a few of which were ones he’d probably want back.

For a veteran goalie like him, the most important thing is for him to see shots and get comfortable. He’ll get another start before the end of the preseason.

A predictable outcome

Credit to the Canes’ young guns, they came out with tons of energy early in the game and delivered a number of blows to a veteran Bolts lineup, but as the game went on and Tampa got their game together, it was somewhat of a lopsided affair.

Mainstays Corey Perry, Pat Maroon, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, and Brayden Point all had multi-point nights, and all but one of them had three-point nights, while the trio of Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev, and Jan Ruuta all logged north of 20 minutes.

The common theme in postgame was that the late collapse wasn’t due to a lack of effort. It was a collection of largely young guys with little or no experience playing together who made a few costly mistakes. It’s the preseason. These are valuable little learning experiences.

Brind’Amour said that, on the whole, he liked what he saw from his guys.